More than 15 people have died and 20 are missing on Dominica, the first island hit by Maria.
Dominica's prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit broke down in tears Thursday as he shared with the region the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. The backup generator at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau, which is located on the southwest coast of Dominica, was also flooded during the storm. "Everything has to be manual".
The declaration makes federal funding available to Puerto Ricans affected by the storm, which has knocked out power across the entire island Wednesday.
"It is a huge relief that those two islands have not suffered as we had suspected they might do, and more importantly planned for - we planned absolutely for the worst", he said.
Skerrit said it was a miracle hundred more are not dead considering the level of destruction.
However, he said based on historical knowledge of Dominica and the fact that the eye of storm swept across the island from southeast to northwest, there would be "billions of dollars" in damage, with virtually every one of the estimated 70,000 population directly or indirectly impacted.
It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when that storm roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month. "They were out during the highest winds, exposed to the hurricane, with nowhere to run". "We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to making the infrastructure increasingly more resilient and to minimise losses following the disaster", he said.
That is one reason he said government officials are trying to keep the families in the loop as much as they can: "Information is gold, to reassure them".
The State Department was arranging boat evacuations for American citizens wishing to leave Dominica on Friday.
He added the island is "going to need all the help the world has to offer".
The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), which is mandated to carry out relief efforts on behalf of the nation, is deploying a delegation of 22 medical support, fire and defence force staff to Dominica today.